Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Review for Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver 
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Release: 25th September 2014
Genre: Fiction, Ghosts
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family-bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna-have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself-in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide-with cataclysmic results."

Rooms is Lauren Oliver’s first venture into Adult Fiction and is a book I’ve been looking forward to all year. From our creepy UK cover to the promise of a ghost story I was really looking forward to diving into this one this Halloween season. Turns out that Rooms isn’t your typical ghost story. It’s not the spooky read I was anticipating and at first I was a little disappointed about that but before long I started to appreciate this book for what it is: a sombre and thought provoking look at the pasts that haunt all of us and keep us from moving on.

Rooms has a large cast of characters both living and dead. With so many characters and short chapters flitting from person to person it did take me a while to settle into the story and get a feel for the characters.

What really impressed me with Rooms was Lauren Oliver’s unique take on ghosts. From the way the old house would become the physical body for the spirits to inhabit to the way their conversations would translate to the living as a creak of a floorboard or the opening of a door. As with her YA books Lauren Oliver’s writing creates the perfect atmosphere for her story, this time she takes on a moody literary voice that will echo through your mind long after the final sentence providing a ghostly encore to Rooms itself.

At the beginning of the book it appears that the connections between the characters are down to the big old house and their individual unhappiness but as the story unfolds one layer at a time you see how expertly Lauren Oliver has crafted her story with one thread overlapping with another to create an entangled web of loss, secrets and bitterness. By the end of the book the whole story has come together. My only complaint is that I felt some characters got a more satisfactory ending than others and I would have liked more closure regarding some things.

Although Rooms wasn’t the ghost story I was expecting it was one I appreciated for its originality and thought provoking look at the things that truly haunt us.

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